A view of the old Barbican gate
Although Krakow isn’t among the priciest European cities, we always love to save when we can. Here are our picks for stuff that won’t cost you a z?oty!
Take a trip to St. Mary’s Basilica
Mariacki Square, 5
Arguably the most famous of Poland’s churches, St. Mary’s Basilica is home to the illustrious Gothic altarpiece carved by Veit Stoss, a German sculptor. Admission to the main basilica is free, although you’ll only be able to waltz about halfway down the main aisle. For a closer look at the altar, visitors can pay 6 PLN (about €1.75).
Consider climbing up one of St. Mary’s two towers (a cost of 5 PLN or about €1.50) for a panoramic view of the city. The towers are open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from May 1 to August 31.
Tour the main market square (“Rynek Glowny”)
in the Old Quarter
Take a stroll around Krakow’s biggest medieval city square, a place surrounded by historic buildings and architecture. Rynek Glowny’s main landmarks are St. Mary’s Basilica, St. Adalbert’s Church (one of Poland’s oldest stone churches, dating back to 1000), and the old Cloth Hall (“Sukiennice”). This old hall, formerly the city’s center of international trade, is filled with interesting small shops and vendors, and worthy of a stroll.
The quarter often hosts free outdoor concerts and festivals. Check Krakow’s tourism board for schedules and times.
Walk up Wawel Hill
Take a stroll around the most famous spot in Poland, home to Wawel Castle (built during the Renaissance) and Wawel Cathedral (sometimes referred to as Krakow Cathedral). While admission to the castle and cathedral isn’t free, looking at them from a distance is priceless! Plus, you’ll love the gorgeous views of the city and the Vistula River.
Bonus: Visit the castle on Monday, as there’s typically a free public concert.
Stroll down Ulica Kanonicza
Arguably Krakow’s most picturesque street, Ulica (“ul.” for short) Kanonicza is home to some of Krakow’s oldest and most beautiful homes, dating back to the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The Ulica was once prime real estate for prominent nobles who lived there and it served as the residence for Father Karol Wojtyla from 1951-1963 before he became known to the world as Pope John Paul II in 1978.
Visit the Barbakan
on Ul. Basztowa in the Old Quarter
Once one of eight fortified entrances, the Barbakan is the only part of the wall still standing. The city still takes pride in the fact that this particular gateway, once resplendent with moats and still sporting turrets (see photo above), never got captured during medieval battles. The architecture of the gate and its massive size are a sight to behold. Free concerts and exhibitions are typically held throughout the summertime.